5 ways to protect yourself from solar panel theft

Updated

Stolen solar panels

Envision this: You get a white truck, a few magnets made for $40 that says “Joe’s Solar” or whatever, then you go to people’s homes who have solar systems and snatch the solar panels right off the roof in broad daylight. All the neighbors think you’re doing maintenance.

Scary huh? Solar panel theft is extremely rare in the US, but it happens (probably not ever in the above scenario… most thieves lack solid planning). It also usually happens on properties with ground-mounted systems (thieves are lazy). In Europe, where solar is much more prolific, solar panel theft is a more common phenomenon.

The good news is there’s no good way to sell stolen solar panels. Often, the people who try get busted. But there will undoubtedly be a secondary market for used solar panels within a few years, as people upgrade or return leased systems.

How do you protect yourself against solar panel theft?

  1. TELL YOUR HOME INSURANCE PEOPLE! This is number one. If you told them you installed solar panels, you’re covered. If not, you’re not. Often times they won’t even raise your premium.
  2. You could essentially create The Viper for solar with a wire that alarms if removed… or you could even use your solar monitoring system to alert you (although that would only work in the day). You could video them, but then is that really realistic?
  3. They have serial numbers, but that probably doesn’t help stop them from getting stolen, and may not be that great a help in getting them tracked down. However, asking for them when installed won’t hurt.
  4. Here’s a good one: there is a company that makes lockable hex nuts with their own unique key (which I can’t find at the moment…. I’m bad at the internet) … without that unique key, you can just go to Home Depot and get a set of 40 attachments which would pretty much cover all possible hex nuts. This will be a unique selling point for some solar installers to come I am sure.
  5. Put some sticker on them that says “protected by blah blah blah alarm” whether it’s true or not. Deterrence, yo. Just make sure you don’t put the
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 - Author of Solar Reviews

Dan Hahn

Solar Journalist

Dan is a solar journalist and content advisor with SolarReviews. He also works with solar installers and solar nonprofits to develop and execute strategic plans.

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